The Philadelphia sports fan has become conditioned to think that any well-paid veteran player is radioactive.
They saw the Phillies decline as they held onto aging players. They watched dysfunctional Sixers teams overspend on players who were either hurt or not equipped with the skills to live up to their deals. They witnessed the Eagles throw a ton of money at free agents who didn't fit. They endured the Flyers refusal to rebuild, constantly mortgaging the future.
I get it. But the level of anti-veteran certitude that it's created among this fanbase is baffling sometimes.
A report surfaced late Friday night that the Sixers are one of a few teams interested in free agent point guard Rajon Rondo. Quickly, the response became negative. Rondo is a team cancer. He can't shoot. He's a ballhog. He's declining. He's aging. He isn't a fit for the Sixers.
I know, I know, I should #StickToBaseball, but consider these five counter-arguments:
1. The Sixers no longer need to tank. They no longer should. Especially this season, when even if they were to finish, say, 36-46, they'd have a high draft pick because they can swap picks with the Kings, who are sure to be terrible again.
2. The presence of Rondo would unquestionably improve the offensive numbers of Jahlil Okafor and Nerlens Noel. Neither has ever had a point guard as skilled as Rondo, a passer as gifted as Rondo. Even if you're not the biggest Rondo fan, and trust me I'm not, you can't deny that he's on a different level than an Ish Smith, a Jerryd Bayless, a Michael Carter-Williams.
Putting Rondo on the floor with Noel would lead to many an alley-oop. It would lead to many well-placed passes right in Okafor's sweet spot. It would enhance the trade value of both players the way pairing any above-average point guard with a young big man would.
3. Rondo would probably only come here if he was OK with deferring to Ben Simmons on some possessions. Bryan Colangelo has said repeatedly that Simmons is a facilitator, a player who can run the offense. But that doesn't mean Simmons will be bringing the ball up and dishing on literally every possession. It would be beneficial to have another skilled passer on the floor with him, or on the floor when he's resting on the bench. It would be one thing if Rondo expected to come here and run the show on every play and rack up an enormous usage rate. But why would he sign here if that was his expectation?
4. To the "Rondo can't shoot" crowd, look at his stats last season. Playing on a very bad Kings team, Rondo had his best career shooting season, making 37 percent of his threes. The league average hovers around 35 percent each year. Rondo went 62 for 170 from three, attempting 80 more than ever before and making 36 more. You can't simply disqualify that as a fluke and overlook any improvements he made. I find it hilarious how Sixers fans were quick to say Jeff Teague was in decline after one down-ish year, but will quickly write off Rondo's season as a fluke.
5. The Sixers have to spend money in some way. They have to hit the salary cap floor and are far away from it. And it's not like Rondo is some 35-year-old point guard. He's 30. He wouldn't be 38 in the final years of a deal.
Now, I can't argue the personality concerns with Rondo. There were signs he'd worn out his welcome in Boston. He certainly alienated his teammates in Dallas. Whatever happened in Sacramento is immaterial because it's been a hotbed of NBA insanity for a decade.
I'm not saying Rondo is the ideal fit for the Sixers. But he'd make them better, as a team and as individuals. I don't care what you think of Rondo's stat-hoggery, you don't rack up 11.7 assists last season or average a double-double in five different years without also enhancing the abilities of others around you.
As long as he'd be OK with not stunting Simmons' growth as a facilitator, why not pursue him?